Westjet lets go of more than 3,000 employees due to Covid-19 pandemic

Westjet of Canada in a statement said it is laying-off 3,333 employees in what they term as "organizational changes." Affected will be ground staff and call center operations.

"Throughout the course of the biggest crisis in the history of aviation, WestJet has made many difficult, but essential, decisions to future-proof our business," said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO.

"Today's announcement regarding these strategic but unavoidable changes will allow us to provide security to our remaining 10,000 WestJetters, and to carry on the work of transforming our business. WestJet will once again serve the needs of Canadian travellers with low fares and award-winning service levels tomorrow and years from now."

According to Westjet, they will consolidate call centre activity in Alberta, contract out airport operations in all domestic airports outside of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, and strategically restructure its office and management staff.

Immediate cost cutting measures

Due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the airline industry, Westjet has already implemented immediate cost cutting measures. These include releasing a majority of outside contractors, instituting a hiring freeze, stopping all non-essential travel and training, suspending any internal role movements and salary adjustments, cutting executive, vice-president and director salaries and pausing more than 75 per cent of its capital projects.

The airline however still had to reduce its existing capacity by 90% as air travel demand plummeted.

However, Westjet has access to Canada's Emergency Wage Subsidy Program which provides 75% wage top-up. This however cannot go on for too long hence, Canadian businesses covered by this has to really plan for the months ahead. Westjet however continues to fly to 38 domestic flights within Canada despite the reduced capacity.

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